Miltary Service Checklist

31st Bal­loon Com­pany Base­ball Team, Ft. Knox, KY

It’s help­ful to get a quick look at what mil­i­tary ser­vice records can or do exist for your ances­tors, as these records can pro­vide a wealth of information.

While I intend to take this list of ances­tors back to the French-and-Indian Wars, tonight, I will just go back to the first World War.

My father served in the US Navy dur­ing World War II, but never left the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. He spent most of his time in NAD Hast­ings, Nebraska and NAS Nor­folk, Vir­ginia. There was also a stint in the brig.

His father, Lawrence Lake Jones, fought over­seas in World War I, and served in the occu­pa­tion of Ger­many, or at least that is what the lore says. This is sup­ported by what appears on his military-issued grave­stone, as it lists him as hav­ing served in the 26th Infantry, which fought in France and occu­pied Germany.

Ernest Melvin Hill, my mater­nal grand­fa­ther, was in the 31st Bal­loon Com­pany, Avi­a­tion Sec­tion, U. S. Sig­nal Corps, sta­tioned at Fort Henry Knox, Ken­tucky. He was a chauf­feur 1st class and a mechanic.

I real­ized by look­ing at these folks that I had not pulled Ernie Hill’s mil­i­tary ser­vice record, which is prob­a­bly avail­able. I also know that some­times a record is recov­ered from the freeze-dried records of the St. Louis per­son­nel office. So I should ask about my grand­fa­ther Lawrence Lake Jones’s records … just in case.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 5 — Inheritance, Maps, and The Biography of Job

The Biog­ra­phy of Job

In the Vir­ginia class today, Bar­bara Vines Lit­tle took us through a cou­ple of exam­ples where small nuances in the law of inher­i­tance could help us sort through pos­si­ble rela­tion­ships in land records.

She also walked us through a vast array of map resources for Vir­ginia. I will write a sep­a­rate arti­cle about those.

After the class, I headed to the Sam­ford Library Spe­cial Col­lec­tions to see what else I could find out about Job, the African-American preacher.

I looked in the first box of mate­ri­als about the his­tory of the Canaan Bap­tist Church by Simon J. Smith. It was not in this box, though the acces­sion records said that it would be. Thank­fully, Eliz­a­beth Wells, the Spe­cial Col­lec­tions Librar­ian, was able to locate the “Biog­ra­phy of Job” men­tioned in the acces­sion book.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 4 — Migration, Platting, & Blacks in Antebellum Churches

The fourth, and penul­ti­mate, day at Sam­ford is always bit­ter­sweet. It’s the last full day, and is capped with the banquet.

In the Vir­ginia class, Bar­bara Vines Lit­tle talked about land tax records and migra­tion trails and set­tle­ment clus­ters. We also had a mini-course on land plat­ting and Deed Map­per from Vic Dunn. The last lec­ture of the day was on “Find­ing the Answers in Virginia’s Neigh­bors Records,” dri­ving home a point that has been made con­sis­tently this week: The record may be a place you don’t expect it to be. The bride and groom in Vir­ginia may go to Mary­land to get mar­ried, per­haps because the laws make it eas­ier to accom­plish there at that time, or per­haps because they are Catholic, and there are so few Catholic parishes in Virginia.

After the class I went to the Sam­ford Uni­ver­sity Library, Spe­cial Col­lec­tions room and pulled a folder from the Bap­tist records.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 3 — O! the Fatal Stamp!

O! the fatal Stamp

Today’s IGHR course in Vir­ginia geneal­ogy got to the heart of the mat­ter: West­ward migra­tion and Vir­ginia (and Vir­gini­ans) in the Rev­o­lu­tion, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

It felt like we were cram­ming a week’s worth of instruc­tion into each 75-minute seg­ment. And, indeed, there are a lot of events and a lot of records to cover.

A cou­ple of standouts:

I had known that George Wash­ing­ton started the French and Indian Wars by allow­ing his troops to kill a French diplo­mat, then admit­ting cul­pa­bil­ity for the event in a French doc­u­ment he signed even though he could not read French.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 2

In the “Records of Other Researchers” por­tion of the Vir­ginia class at Sam­ford today, we took a look at a vol­ume enti­tled The Pre­ston and Vir­ginia Papers of the Draper Col­lec­tion of Man­u­scripts. (Madi­son: State His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety of Wis­con­sin, 1915). This vol­ume cat­a­logs a sub­set of col­lec­tions of the Draper Man­u­scripts, papers gath­ered by Lyman Draper for the Wis­con­sin His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety. These papers doc­u­ment the “his­tory of the trans-Allegheny West from the fron­tier con­flicts of the 1740s to the War of 1812.”

As you may have guessed, the Pre­ston and Vir­ginia Papers relate to Vir­ginia. The book out­lines the col­lec­tion, with names of per­sons and sum­maries of the mate­ri­als con­tained and the events described in them.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 1

It’s a tru­ism of geneal­ogy that the laws deter­mine what records might be avail­able. One also hears an echo of Hal Hol­brook in All the President’s Men: “Fol­low the money!” And, as Carl von Clause­witz said, war is the con­tin­u­a­tion of pol­i­tics by other means.

Put these together, and you see that aside from vital records, most records are gen­er­ated by laws, money, and mil­i­taries. In my week at Sam­ford, I am study­ing the effect of land and wars on the records of Vir­ginia. (Last year, we cov­ered the impact of law more generally.)

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IGHR (Samford) 2010 — Registration Day

We arrived in Birm­ing­ham last night at about 8, and got our room at the Home­wood La Quinta. It’s an excel­lent hotel, and the staff is help­ful, and even inter­ested in my stepson’s trum­pet play­ing, but it would be nice to have wi-fi inter­net in the rooms, and not just in the lobby.

I walked through the 93 degrees and the humid­ity to the lobby of the Best West­ern to ride one of the free shut­tles over to Sam­ford Uni­ver­sity, as my wife and step­son had headed to Huntsville. (He’s attend­ing Space Camp while I attend “Geneal­ogy Camp.” It’s becom­ing a fam­ily tradition.)

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The National Archives at Atlanta

National Archives South­east Regional Branch, Mor­row, Geor­gia (Photo cour­tesy NARA web­site, under fair use)

On my way South and West to attend the Insti­tute of Genealog­i­cal and His­tor­i­cal Research, I took time out to stop into the National Archives  South­east Regional Branch in Mor­row, Geor­gia (near Atlanta). This branch serves the states of Alabama, Florida, Geor­gia, Ken­tucky, Mis­sis­sippi, North Car­olina, South Car­olina, and Ten­nessee and pro­vides doc­u­men­tary records (tex­tual records, maps, pho­tographs, and archi­tec­tural draw­ings) relat­ing to the con­duct of national gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions in those states. It also has exten­sive micro­film collections

I wanted to take a look at the immi­gra­tion and nat­u­ral­iza­tion records avail­able at the South­east­ern Branch of the Archives.

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On the Road in Gastonia, North Carolina

I’m in the town of Gas­to­nia, North Car­olina, on the road to the Insti­tute of Genealog­i­cal and His­tor­i­cal Research at Sam­ford Uni­ver­sity in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama.

This will be my third year in a row at Sam­ford, hav­ing attended in 2008 to study mil­i­tary records with Craig R. Scott, CG; Rick Sayre, CG; et. al. Last year, I attended the class on “Vir­ginia and Her Laws” with Bar­bara Vines Lit­tle, CG; Vic Dunn, CG; and Craig R. Scott.

I am return­ing this year to com­plete the sec­ond of the two Vir­ginia classes: “Virginia’s Land and Mil­i­tary Con­flicts & Their Effect on Migra­tion” taught by Bar­bara Vines Lit­tle, Vic Dunn, and Craig R. Scott.

Each of these expe­ri­ences has been richly reward­ing. The instruc­tors “know their stuff,” and impart it well. I come out of each week with my head swim­ming with data and ideas. With new ways to approach the records, new repos­i­to­ries to search out, and, in some cases, some new research results dis­cov­ered in situ. There are few edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties for geneal­o­gists and fam­ily his­to­ri­ans that can com­pete with a week at Samford.

A press release from Sam­ford Uni­ver­sity notes that “A record total of 286 stu­dents and 40 fac­ulty mem­bers from 37 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia will par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram…” If you do genealog­i­cal research, and you are con­cerned about meth­ods, records, and repos­i­to­ries, you should brave the June weather in Birm­ing­ham, and join us at Sam­ford some year.

In order to attend, you need to get on the Institute’s mail­ing list and be pre­pared to haunt your com­puter screen the morn­ing reg­is­tra­tion opens up. This year many classes filled up within 45 min­utes of the reg­is­tra­tion web­site open­ing; most were filled in the first two hours. It’s a highly sought after week. Hope to see you here next year, if you are not here this year.

Slave-Era Photo Found

Rare Photo of Slave Children
Rare Photo of Slave Chil­dren: John and an Uniden­ti­fied Young Boy

Today’s news includes the report of the dis­cov­ery — at an estate sale in Char­lotte, North Car­olina — of a slave-era photo of two young boys, one iden­ti­fied as “John,” and another uniden­ti­fied, pho­tographed by the Mathew Brady stu­dio, prob­a­bly by Brady’s assis­tant Tim­o­thy O’Sullivan.

It’s a stun­ning pho­to­graph. One can see the toll slav­ery has taken on these chil­dren. As it was less affect­ing at the time than the pho­tographs of whipped and abused slaves, it is nonethe­less an amaz­ing tes­ta­ment to the evil legacy of the found­ing fathers who built the racial vio­lence and sub­jec­tion of black slavery.

As a geneal­o­gist, I can­not help but won­der whether these chil­dren had descen­dants, and whether these descen­dants are search­ing for them. Along with the pho­to­graph, a bill of sale for John for $1,150 in 1854.

What hap­pened to the two young boys after slav­ery times? Where did their fam­ily live and go? How did their for­tunes fare?